But then Wednesday after loading everything and everyone into the van and driving 200 miles and successfully (and quickly!) setting up camp and serving the family a meal cooked entirely over the fire (because we forgot the camping stove) I got to thinking "Maybe this is brave. Maybe I should write up a little post about how to tent camp with kids." SURE Joe and I had argued a bit in our hurry to get on the road and YES we had to spend two hours in the campground parking lot waiting to check in (because apparently I had chosen THE MOST POPULAR campground in the state). But the kids were happy and didn't seem to notice these little hiccups in our trip. We were camping and doing it well with four kids in tow. I must be an expert, right?
That first night Joe took the three eldest kids to a campground dance while I put Levi to sleep. My plan was to write my "how to camp" after the baby was asleep. That never happened. Instead just moments after he fell asleep Levi vomited all over me, himself and my sleeping bag. And in that moment my "how-to-camp-with-young-kids" died along with my dreams of a magical couple days in a tent with my family.
Packing up and driving another 200 miles across the state to a second campground because each campground only had reservations for ONE NIGHT available. We unintentionally took the scenic route on this drive as we very wrongly assumed we would be able to use our phone's GPS to direct us. We made our best guess and headed in what we assumed was the right direction. Eventually we made it. Only after a pit stop at McDonalds (because nothing says "camping" quite like fast food, right?). Oh and I may or may not have allowed my 5 year old to give the 1 year old a gogurt. A food item he is completely incapable of eating without assistance but he was entertained...and very, very messy! Desperate times call for desperate measures.
On our second morning of camping Charlotte woke up and proceeded to vomit all over her sister's sleeping bag. She then threw up every 30-90 minutes for the rest of the day. We had pre-purchased tickets for the entire family to go on a guided tour of Longhorn Cavern in the afternoon. Our tentative plan, given Charlotte's condition, was to have Charlotte and I skip it so she could rest/vomit in peace. However she REALLY wanted to go so we persevered. Which means Joe carried her the entire time/wore her on his back in the Ergo. Yep a FIVE YEAR OLD in a baby carrier. Most of the 90 minute tour he was also carrying Hannah. Meanwhile I was wearing a screaming/inconsolable Levi in our other carrier. No, we didn't look ridiculous at all! And yes everyone on the tour was shooting daggers at me with their eyes. I thought the low point of our experience was when Charlotte was vomiting into the trash can in the cavern and the tour guide chose that EXACT moment to show everyone the trash can location with his flashlight therefore displaying our sick child to the entire group. But no. I was wrong. It got worse.
The real low of the trip came later that evening on our drive home. We had just survived driving through an incredibly intense wind and hail storm when all four kids fell asleep. Joe chose this moment to stop and get a coffee. Moments after he went into the gas station Isaiah woke up and said he had to go to the bathroom. Seconds later he told me he had to throw up. In an instant I grabbed our throw up bucket (ie our camping dishpan) from Charlotte's lap and lunged back to Isaiah in the third row. I got there just in time to catch the vomit from not just Isaiah but just woke up Hannah as well! And this is the moment Joe returned to the van to find me sprawled across the van catching vomit from two children simultaneously with one bucket. THAT was the real low point of our camping trip. I laughed and I cried. And then I handed my husband a bucket full of puke.
So there you have it. How NOT to camp with young children. Just don't do it.
In all seriousness, there were plenty of fun and good moments in between the bad ones. And though it didn't go as planned I'm glad we went. It certainly was memorable. I think Spring Break 2016 is one we will be talking about for years to come. Plus it made Joe excited to go back to work. Today as I was dropping Charlotte off at school I asked her what the worst part of her break was. Her answer: that we never got to go on an entire family bike ride. Not vomiting across half the state of Texas. So it couldn't have been that terrible, right?!?